Cape Town - While there continues to be nothing between South Africa and Australia on the pitch, following a second consecutive draw in the Rugby Championship, the gap between the two in the World Rugby rankings has closed to just 0.69 of a point.
According to the World Rugby website, Saturday’s 27-27 stalemate in Bloemfontein, three weeks after the sides had shared the spoils 23-23 in Perth, has resulted in the Springboks losing a fraction under half a rating point to drop to 85.35 points, putting them below Ireland, who take their place in third, by four-hundredths. Australia stay fifth but with an improved rating of 84.66 points.
As they did in the first encounter on home soil, Australia led 13-10 at half-time thanks to Israel Folau's fifth try of the year and Bernard Foley's boot. Elton Jantjies converted Ryan Dreyer's try and kicked a penalty for South Africa.
A topsy-turvy start to the second half saw the lead change hands three times in less than 10 minutes with the Springboks ahead on the scoreboard thanks to tries from Jan Serfontein and Courtnall Skosan either side of the first of two tries for Wallabies wing Marika Koroibete.
Koroibete’s second and Foley’s third conversion of the match nudged Australia in front again, at 27-24, but a towering 50-metre penalty from Jantjies nine minutes from time levelled the scores and when the flyhalf missed another attempt the game ended with honours again.
South Africa’s failure to beat Australia banished any hope they had of overhauling the All Blacks at the top of the Rugby Championship table.
Keen to celebrate their fifth title in six years in style, Steve Hansen's men raced into a 29-3 half-time lead against Argentina in Buenos Aires.
Captain Kieran Read grabbed a brace of tries for the world's number one team, while wing Waisake Naholo and fullback Damian McKenzie scored one apiece against an Argentinean side reduced to 14 men when Tomas Lavanini was sent to the sin-bin.
Two yellow cards, including one to Read, meant the All Blacks were unable to replicate their dominance in the second period and Los Pumas fought back to ‘draw’ the second half and salvage some pride.
Juan Manuel Leguizamon crossed for a converted try in the 53rd-minute as the home side finally gave the crowd at the Jose Amalfitani Stadium something to shout about. But another yellow card, this time to prop Ramiro Herrera, halted their momentum and the newly-crowned champions had the final word when debutant David Havili went over late on to seal a 36-10 victory.
The rankings are not affected by the outcome of the match given that there are nearly 18 rating points and nine places between the sides.
Top 20 in latest World Rugby standings:
1. New Zealand 95.21
2. England 90.14
3. Ireland 85.39
4. South Africa 85.35
5. Australia 84.66
6. Scotland 82.47
7. Wales 81.73
8. France 79.63
9. Fiji 79.48
10. Argentina 77.86
11. Japan 73.79
12. Georgia 73.41
13. Tonga 71.72
14. Italy 71.00
15. Romania 70.27
16. Samoa 69.67
17. USA 65.84
18. Uruguay 63.15
19. Spain 63.15
20. Russia 63.13